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Jun-04-2009 07:32printcomments

Safari Town Surf Shop Celebrates 20 Years on the Oregon Coast

A "surfer's surf shop", Safari Town understands that focusing on the sport and serving the needs of Oregon surfers has given their shop staying power.

Safari Town Surf Shop
Tony Gile, owner, in front of Safari Town Surf Shop,
Lincoln City, Oregon. Photos: Tony Gile

(LINCOLN CITY, Ore.) - Life can come about full circle sometimes, and I consider that when I think of my longtime friends from the beach, Tony and Jeannie Gile. Their business, Safari Town Surf Shop in Lincoln City is celebrating its 20-year anniversary.

Tony Gile rides an Oregon wave

I am heartened that Oregon so completely accepted the sport of surfing in recent years. I'm not surprised by Tony's success, and I am glad that his shop has been one of the driving forces making surfing a regular everyday part of Oregon's beach culture.

It seems hard to believe that two decades have passed since the time when I lived at the beach and surfed every day and Tony was a friend who would make the trip over from the Salem area. I would joke with him about being from "the valley" and always ask, "Why don't you guys just move out here?"

Last week Tony threw the exact same question to me!

For perspective, let me explain what it was like to surf in Oregon when I first moved here.

In 1986 there was one surf shop in Portland, there was one in Seaside and Lincoln City had a windsurfing shop that was transitioning into a surf shop.

I remember days when Tony pushed the limits really hard in his surfing. Bonnie and I were both there in the early 90's when Tony paddled into waves outside Whale Cove, along with Jack Scovel and John Forse, who also owns a surf shop in Lincoln City, for what was almost certainly the first time in history.

Bonnie & Tim King above, Tony & Jeannie,
at a 1991 surf contest held in Lincoln City.

If I recall, the three finally made it back up the rocks with only two boards, one of which was snapped in two.


Safari Town Surf Shop began in 1987 in a bedroom in Stayton Oregon. Tony Gile, while at work one day at the Stayton Cannery, had an idea. He got enough guys together to order some wetsuits and started an account with a wetsuit company. Then, he and another old friend named Jack Scovel, created the business.

"One thing led to another, and it wasn't long before people were asking if I could get surf wax, surf leashes, this and that," Tony said.

Tony discovered that there was an honest demand for a surf shop that catered to real surfers.

But limited cash meant Tony's surf shop was his home and the back of his Toyota pickup.

"Things went on like this for a while, but eventually a small shop was opened in Lincoln City, Oregon in 1989 and Safari Town Surf Shop was born!"

Tony explains that much has happened since then.

In addition to having three wonderful kids, Tony and Jeannie have turned Safari Town Surf Shop into a hands-on family business.

While mastering the art of designing custom surfboards and expanding from one tee shirt rack and no telephone to the danger of overflowing, Tony was shocked at the shop's instant popularity.

Being a surfer himself, Tony understood the importance of staying focused on surfing and serving the needs of Oregon surfers. Keeping the "soul" in surfing.

Safari Town Surf Shop welcomes everyone of all ages, tastes and levels of expertise, while always keeping surfing as the main emphasis, catching the eye of coastal tourists and renowned surfers alike.

"We are a family owned and operated business and are thankful to God for everything He gives us. We will be celebrating 20 years in business with a huge celebration and sale."

Catch the Wave! If you're a customer from the early days, or if you haven't yet been to Safari Town, their 20th Anniversary is a great time to come check them out at 3026 N.E. HWY 101 Lincoln City, Oregon 541-996-6335.

Check them on the Web at: Safari Town Surf Shop


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address:

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jburn August 20, 2009 7:51 am (Pacific time)

Martin Hass was surfing Whale Cove in 1980. He nearly broke his back the first attempt, but persisted and prevailed on later attempts. It's nice they followed in Martins footsteps - a decade later. Then again, Tony was still in grade school and wouldn't have the connection with the surfers who were pushing the edge during those years.....

Tim King: Well that was my understanding at the time.  Maybe your friend could get a little "Martin Hass Surfed Here" sign installed by the highway department and then you won't have to come along and admonish writers for laying it down the way they see it.  Why isn't Hass shown in Google images surfing or with a surfboard,or surfing?  I mean you can't put Tommy Curren's name in or Buttons Kaluhiokalani or anybody like them and see anything but great surfing.  In fairness, I think I do know his name so I'm probably just missing the connection, but Tony is a long time friend of mine and this story was written from what we knew at the time.  

Island Girl June 4, 2009 1:49 pm (Pacific time)

Congrats on your success Safari Town and all surf equipment outlets with soul.

Randall F. June 4, 2009 1:27 pm (Pacific time)

Many of us began surfing at a place called Indian Beach, north of Cannon Beach back in the early 1960's. In fact I still know people from that time period who still go there and surf with their grandchildren. Boards are much different, but still need those wetsuits. I would remind people that my generation was from the music period of Jan and Dean, Beachboys and many others. Glad to see that people are continuing our lifestyle going back about 50 years now.

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